Kashmir Calling!

Posted in Travel & Places at 2:42 pm by www.PHALANO.com

By Surendra Phuyal

As dusk falls upon the Dal Lake in the heart of the militancy-wracked summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, two young men sit shoulder-to-shoulder on the sidewall of the lakeshore. The two look different and speak a different language – Nepali. Bijaya Rai, 20, of Katari, Udaipur, and Laxman Dhakal, 22, of Puttar, Tanahun, never met each other in Nepal. But after the conflict back home forced them to leave their villages, they both ended up here by the Dal Lake. These two are among hundreds of Nepali youths or teenagers who have reached this western Himalayan valley, whose elevation ranges between 1,700-to-2,500 metres for a better income and better living conditions.

But why insurgency-affected Srinagar, of all the places in India (Just last June 12, eight out of the nine construction workers killed by the militants at a place called Anantnag in the valley were Nepalis from southern Morang)?

“These days Nepalis have reached all corners of the world, this is just Kashmir,” says Rai, the kitchen helper, with a wry smile, on a recent evening.

Next moment a young man passes by on a bicycle and Rai breaks our conversation to loudly say: “Ke chha Soaltee [How are you buddy]?” He isn’t sure whether the man in a hurry responded. But he adds, “He is also a Nepali.”

“I came here with my close friends, when they were home in Nepal on leave about six months ago,” adds Dhakal, the rather dark boy in a security guard’s blue uniform. “Our school was disrupted a lot due to strikes and closures, so I decided to come to India,” the high-school dropout added.

There’s no headcount to suggest the actual number of Nepalis here, but a quick survey around the lake reveals that the small hotels and restaurants around Dal Lake are full of Nepali teens and youths, who work as helpers, waiters or security guards.

Take this. On the same street, Boulevard Road, Ram Bi.Ka., 35, of Bhimad, Tanahun, and Hari Bi.Ka., 22, of Jaubari, Gorkha, serve as security guards; Jiwan Thapa, 17, of Deurali, Kaski, and Krishna Bi.Ka., 16, and Hari Bika, 17, of Rumtar, Tanahun, work in a Punjabi Dhawa. Syanu Gurung, 22, of Mirmi, Syangja, came here three months ago to continue his restaurant-help job; and Pradi Gurung, 15, and Raju Gurung, 16, both of Kyagmi, Syangja, have been working as waiters in a Punjabi Dhawa. And so on and so forth “ Nepali faces are as common as Kashmiri faces in this lake city with striking similarities with Pokhara. The influx of young Nepali workers to Srinagar continues despite the fact that tourist arrivals in Srinagar have hit their lowest ebb in recent times thanks to reports of explosions and gunfights owing to an 18-year-old separatist insurgency that has claimed the lives of 30,725 people since 1988.

In September alone, 22 people, most of them “militants” or policemen, have lost their lives; and the most recent explosion near Dal Lake in July killed several tourists from West Bengal. Summer is the best season to visit Srinagar, which remains covered by snow during winter. In September, the town looks tourist-less as the boathouse- and ‘shikara’-owners wait endlessly for tourists. And there aren’t enough jobs for young Nepalis like Rai and Dhakal either. Yet Kashmiris, whose cultural and trade interactions with Nepalis are considered as old as the Himalaya, seem to have accommodated them just fine.

Their monthly incomes here range from Indian Rs 1,000 to 2,500. “We don’t make a lot of money here, but it’s just about enough for our survival,” says Dadhiram Poudel, 31, of Chitwan, who guards a lodge here. And “most of them feel at home in Kashmir because of its cool weather like mountainous Nepal’s,” Bablu, a Kashmiri garments sellernear Dal Gate, says in Nepali.

Perhaps another testimony to continuing Kashmiri-Nepali interactions, Bablu’s family members have businesses in Pokhara and Kathmandu as well. And depending on snowfall and weather conditions, they all network and live between Nepal and the Kashmir valley.

All pics by Surendra Phuyal


  1. indra phuyal/malaysia said,

    August 30, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    hi bandu i like your pic very much but if u include name of the place of that picture i think i will be better to know about that place i hope u will give the place name in future comming picture

  2. Anil Poudel / Moscow said,

    September 3, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    hi! you tooooo good. i like your way of presentation . you great
    keep on rocking

  3. Blogtantra.com said,

    September 7, 2007 at 9:31 am

    This is really a interesting article. loved it.

  4. Ashish/sydney said,

    September 8, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    To all the guys who feel that they love their country…

    firstly, surendra ji hats off with ur work….ur work is absolutely remarkable…i really appreciate ur work …Now to those people who are keen on giving their comments esp the ones who have a problem with the location surendra ji has chosen….okie what u guys think of urself…smart….intelligent…decent or a jackass…i suppose the latter would suit u..well as far as my knowledge surendra ji is trying to show the beauty of the nature and the life of nepalese abroad….he always tries to show the whole picturesueqe and not only the beauty which u guys are always fond of….u guys are staying away from nepal and all u want is to see the beauty of our country…if u really want to feel the beauty of nepal then why did u leave nepal????? the answer i tell u..its inside u…u know that….so plz stop interfering in his work okie….if u guys don know how to appreciate then stop putting ur comments….

    at last but not the least, i am really thankful to mr surendra for posting nice pictures and i hope to see more in future….

  5. sagarkharel abu dhabi said,

    September 24, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    first of all i would like to say thx for giving us this better opportinuty .& all of u nameste from abu dhabi .most of neplase had been suffring from poltical problem .but our peaceful, greatest& beautiful nepal where lies highest peak of mountain .mount everest. nepleasere known as honest .intlegent,faithful all over the world.it is our obligation to leave nepal for employe.it is very suddest moment for us . ay way we have to leave better image in the world .at last hope we will get more information about peace ful place. good bye………..

  6. Rama sharma Rome..Italy! said,

    October 3, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Dear falano! i’m very happy to see ur indian(kasmiri) pic. but we ‘ve also(Nepalese)many lovely & beautyfull places no? like pokhara, lumbini , lalitpur, bhaktpur etc..thx bye bye… from Rome. if u need to see i’ll send u Roman pic.ok!

  7. raju. New york, usa said,

    October 19, 2007 at 3:17 am

    hi big bro, u really doing a good job, just keep it up and hope to see new place and learn new things from ur camera, happy dashain to every Napali people around the world.

  8. Sher Bahadur Budhathoki said,

    February 27, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Hi, I am doing Good Job.
    So, I am very happy every body.

  9. Nishant said,

    April 4, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    The soon to be government in power must whole heartdly make education specially in rural parts of Nepal, infracture development and tourism the no.1 priority sector for development of our country and its unity so young nepalese can make a living without having to go all over with uncertain future. Peace ..

  10. unplugged ass/kathmandu said,

    April 25, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    hi, i really like this.i know you should keep it up in the coming futuretoo.bye

  11. Nepalgunj said,

    May 29, 2008 at 10:32 am

    dai i am really impressed with your still which are touchable in sense of nation those who are out of Nepal and to potray their lifes through photos which is admirable. you are genious and there is no doubt that all of your pix vows about the circumstances brialliantly. We all neplese poeple are proud of you.

    Ganesh lama

  12. sanfrancisco said,

    July 30, 2008 at 1:32 am

    it would be better to introduce nepal. you have done a good job to introduce nepalease in other countries, but you should focus on introducing nepal rather than other.

  13. badri timsina dubai, dubai said,

    August 2, 2008 at 9:53 am

    hello surandra sir
    It’s really a wonderful pictures which u highlight to us. I really feel great to know many more things about Kasmir. But Nepalese who went abroad have worst condition not even Kasmir but also in the other countries. like me i am aslo same condition in uae . What even u people let us know before also is appreciatable. Thanks for ur wonderful job.
    Keeping on showing us new things. U really got a wonderful job. thanku so much

  14. MALE said,

    June 22, 2009 at 8:25 pm


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